Reckitt Benckiser fined $1.7m for misleading claims about Nurofen’s ‘pain specific’ relief

Reckitt Benckiser has been ordered to pay a $1.7m fine after being found guilty of misleading consumers with claims Nurofen could target specific pain.

Nurofen Specific Pain products landscapeThe fine is a victory for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and for ABC series The Checkout, which called out the misleading branding in a segment broadcast in 2013.

The ACCC launched the action in the Federal Court, which found in a December ruling that the active ingredient in the pain-specific products was no different to that found in standard Nurofen and ordered the products off the shelves.

The company marketed the products as targeting a number of different pains, including back pain, period pain, migraine pain and tension headache.

The company was ordered to cease the practice as there was no evidence the products could isolate a specific type of pain.


ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, welcome the fine but said that large corporations needed to be hit with larger fines when misleading consumers.

The watchdog had been seeking a fine of $6m based on the profits Reckitt Benckiser had made from selling the misleading products.

“In taking this enforcement action, the ACCC was particularly concerned that consumers had been misled into purchasing Nurofen specific pain products, and paying more for those products in the belief that each product was specifically designed for and effective in treating a particular type of pain, when this was not the case,” Sims said.

“The ACCC had submitted that a penalty of at least $6 million was appropriate in order to send a strong deterrence message and due to the longstanding and widespread nature of the conduct and the substantial sales and profit that was made by selling the product.”

The largest fine ever ordered for breaking consumer law was against Coles, which was fined $10m in 2014 for unconscionable conduct against suppliers.

Simon Canning


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